The Missing Five Thousand

My novel is haemorrhaging words in this round of edits. It started off at 114,000 and has gone down to under 109,000. I’m not done yet, either.

It’s about stopping the overwriting, basically. Unnecessary words (hello, Mr Adjective and the rest of your lovely family!) are being deleted without it affecting the sentences they were in, reinforcing the point that there was no need for them in the first place. The first part of the book needed a couple of complete chapter rewrites in order to bring out character and resolve a few pacing and inconsistency issues, but what I’m doing now is just polish. I’m tightening up chapter endings to give them more impact, culling speeches, and making sentences longer or shorter with different combinations of conjunctions and punctuation, depending on the circumstances. It’s interesting how ostensibly small changes can really affect the pace.

A few days ago, I raided the archives and read some bits of my first full draft again, to see what the novel used to be like. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, overall. The nuts and bolts of the story were there, but the way it flowed and some of the description and dialogue were terrible in parts. I didn’t notice at the time. Maybe my elation of getting to the end of what was a pretty complex plot, made me gloss over the flaws in the execution. Perspective is everything. It really helps to “park” something for a while in order to come back to it with fresh eyes later on.

But that time away was well worth it, and the current result is looking great. It’s come a long way. Far enough? Fingers crossed.

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